Mitt Romney on “60 Minutes” last night said that the emergency room is how America should “provide care” for the uninsured.
“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance,” said Romney to CBS News’ Scott Pelley. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”
“That care” is the absolute most expensive care possible, which often comes at the taxpayers’ expense, is not preventative, does not include follow-up care, and includes a far greater risk of death.
Take, for example, a 50-year old man who has insurance, goes to the doctor at least annually for a checkup — usually fully covered by his medical insurance. The doctor finds he has high blood pressure, prescribes a low-cost blood pressure prescription, which keep the man’s blood pressure in check. He does not have a heart attack, and perhaps even follows his doctor’s advice and loses weight and exercises regularly.
Then, take that same man, and remove his insurance, and look at him five or ten years later. He never goes to the doctor because it’s too expensive. He has a heart attack. Perhaps he is able to call 911 on his own. Perhaps not. If not, (sorry, Mitt,) he dies. If he does, and the ambulance gets there in time, perhaps they can save his life, but perhaps he is unable to continue working and has to rely on the government for the rest of his life. Either way — recovery or not — the taxpayer is paying the cost of his care.
This entire conversation is ridiculous at this point in our history, and Romney, more than anyone should, should know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Romney’s shocking lack of understanding of these very basics make him unqualified to even discuss health care — much less be president.
Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel at The Huffington Post note that this “constitutes a dramatic reversal in position for Romney, who passed a universal health care law in Massachusetts, in part, to eliminate the costs incurred when the uninsured show up in emergency rooms for care.”
Indeed, in both his book and in high-profile interviews during the campaign, Romney has touted his achievement in stamping out these inefficiencies while arguing that the same thing should be done at the national level.
And while Romney refused to agree on Sunday that the government’s role is to ensure that every American has health care, he has endorsed such an idea in the past.
When asked in a March 2010 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether he believes in universal coverage, Romney said, “Oh, sure.”
“Look, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care for which they have no responsibility, particularly if they are people who have sufficient means to pay their own way,” he said.
And in a 2007 interview with Glenn Beck, Romney called the fact that people without insurance were able to get “free care” in emergency rooms “a form of socialism.”
“When they show up at the hospital, they get care. They get free care paid for by you and me. If that’s not a form of socialism, I don’t know what is,” he said at the time. “So my plan did something quite different. It said, you know what? If people can afford to buy insurance … or if they can pay their own way, then they either buy that insurance or pay their own way, but they no longer look to government to hand out free care. And that, in my opinion, is ultimate conservativism.”
Video via Talking Points Memo
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